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Commission sets public hearing on creation of Harmony Grove TIF

MORGANTOWN — “Finally, we’re here.”

That’s how Tom Aman, serving as bond counsel for the Monongalia County Commission, began his comments Wednesday on the creation of a second Morgantown Industrial Park TIF district, to be known as the Harmony Grove TIF District.

The commission set a public hearing for 10 a.m. April 21 for anyone wishing to speak for or against the district’s creation.

“We’re asking for it not to exceed $100 million in bonds to finance, basically, this phase and future phases of the buildout for Harmony Grove,” Aman said.

Those TIF dollars will be used to support the construction of a new Harmony Grove interchange off I-79 and extend infrastructure into the park expansion.  

For example, Morgantown Utility Board has said it will require an approximately $8 million water and sewer upgrade to service the expansion, including its first major potential tenant, which it named as Mountaintop Beverage.

Though there’s been no official announcement to that end, Glenn Adrian, co-owner of Enrout Properties, which owns the MIP, said he’s hopeful a new manufacturing project will be announced “very soon.”

“You’re basically almost building a new park. The amount of utilities that have to be extended, from power to water and sanitary, fiber, roads – it’s substantial,” Adrian said.

The West Virginia Department of Transportation is in the process of conducting  justification and environmental studies on the future interchange.

“All that is progressing quite well. Knock on wood, so far there hasn’t been any unforeseen hiccups in that process or anything that’s reared its head that could be a potential problem,” Adrian said.

According to an interchange collaboration agreement, the DOT will cover the cost to build the interchange. Bonds will then be placed with the state allowing for the reimbursement of those costs as the park continues to  build out and add value. 

In addition to the new TIF district, the commission will also hold a public hearing regarding amendments to the existing industrial park TIF district, created in 2008.

Those amendments would: Extend the life of the district from 25 to 30 years; increase bonding capacity to $40 million; remove undeveloped parcels and place them in the new Harmony Grove TIF district. 

What’s a TIF?

TIF districts are a form of tax subsidy that can be issued by a city or county to help economic development. 

The assessed value of property within a TIF district is set at the time the district is created. This creates the base value. Development increases the value of the property.

Taxes are collected on the new value of the property. However, only the amount of taxes that would be collected on the base value are divided among the taxing bodies as usual. The rest of the tax collected goes into a fund to pay off bonds for the district’s development.

TIF districts are good for up to 30 years, though the state legislature is looking at potentially extending that number.

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